We’ve had some interesting moments in our park over the past few weeks. We’ve had countless people wandering through the park playing Pokemon Go. We even have a “gym” located on the property as part of the game. (I would explain what this means but the truth is I don’t know.) For the most part this has been a positive experience with many people finding Bethesda’s park as a destination. Now if only we can remind some to not drive through the parking lot only paying attention to their phone and not to those who may be in the parking lot.

We have had vandalism in the form of graffiti on the wood structure around the garbage cans and one of the light poles, and some kids flooded the sink in the outside bathroom. We also had a car abandoned in the parking lot and other moments that can just get you down. Our volunteers and our custodian Bill work hard to keep our park and facilities looking nice and they make sure things are safe. It is difficult to see that hard work damaged by people who seem to have nothing better to do. We have recently added security cameras around the building to serve as a deterrent and as an extra set of eyes when no one is around.

If these were the only things happening at Bethesda then it would be easy to be disappointed or even a little depressed. But Bethesda is so much more than any one negative event. As I write this, I can hear the process going on for items to be sorted for the garage sale. It is garage sale funds that purchased the handicap door opener for one of our front doors which gets used by so many. We are thankful for the many people who donate and help with this large project.

Clothes are being sorted and new items are being purchased or donated for the Bethel Clothes Closet. It takes a lot of work and effort to keep the clothes closet stocked and ready but it makes an impact on the families who are need of clothing for their kids so that they can be ready to tackle a new school year. Children are referred to us by the counselors at Bethel Schools.

Twice a month anywhere from 50-90 families are supported by the Food Pantry. Many of you volunteer or have volunteered with this program and you know what it means to those who attend to be able to gather those food items to help feed their families each day. We also help many people through our emergency food pantry to get people through a day or so with filling and nutritious items.

Over 100 kids participated in VBS and WildKids. Each were given the opportunity to have fun and grow in their faith. So many of the kids that participate in these programs do not attend church at Bethesda but we are thankful for the opportunity to be a positive influence in their lives. Each volunteer ends the week exhausted but with the knowledge that they played a part in shaping the faith of many children.

All of these things are secondary to our primary purpose. Our primary purpose is to be a community that gathers together around Word and Sacrament to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ through whom we know God. It is the faith of this community that allows us to do all of the other things. It is our response to God’s love for us that we in turn love our neighbors.

I opened with a question that I hope never gets answered. Bethesda has been and will be a positive force in our neighborhood. In Christ, through our lives of faith, with our hands and feet and hearts, we know what Bethesda means to our neighborhood and we will continue to be a pool of healing water for a weary world.